Sunday, July 27, 2014

Catching Up and Even More Linkage

I've just had one of those times when I've been unwell - nothing serious but enough to sap me of most of my energy - so I've been a bit slack on blogging and much else. All I've been doing is the bare essentials so while I try to get a bit of enthusiasm for any of the stuff I should be doing I give you some linkage.

First something heartwarming - and I should warn you that it made me cry but in a good way.

The next link came up on my Facebook newsfeed and was presented as something we should look at as heartwarming. Instead it made me shudder and was all the more disturbing as I'd just been talking to a dog behaviourist who had explained exactly why this sort of behaviour, which I'd always seen as risky, is both dangerous and irresponsible. I love dogs and have always shared my life with them but putting babies and toddlers in these sorts of situations with dogs frankly terrifies me. How anyone could watch the first part of the video where an aggressive dog - yes, I know it's small but that doesn't stop it being aggressive - continually harasses a plainly frightened baby without intervening and find it amusing I cannot understand. See what you think here.

On a lighter note this  and this made me laugh. I hope they do the same for you.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

MH 17

I've been putting off posting about the tragic shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH 17 until there was more information but it's now obvious that answers will be slow in coming. It's heart breaking  to think of all those lives lost for no reason and my heart goes out to those who have lost family or friends. That there were so many children makes it all the more tragic. The one definite thing is that it is unlikely to have happened if not for Russian meddling in the Ukraine and none of the blustering of the Russian government nor Vladimir Putin's attempt to put the blame on the Ukraine can change that.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sexual Orientation is No-one Else's Business

One of the major news items dominating the local papers this last weekend was Ian Thorpe's interview with Michael Parkinson in which he "came out" as gay. I doubt many people were surprised but he had never spoken of it openly. My first thought was why is this news? Surely his sexuality is of no concern to anyone else. I don't care what anyone's sexual orientation is. Why should I? Ian Thorpe was a great representative for Australia as a Olympic swimmer and that's all I need to know about him. The only time when someone's sexuality becomes important is if they try to force someone else act against their will or they are paedophiles and that is abhorrent no matter the sexual orientation of the perpetrator. Right?

Then I saw this opinion piece in the New Matilda. I was shocked because I thought we'd moved past such stupidity in this country. Sadly it seems we haven't. Yes, we have made progress but we certainly have a long way to go.

Monday, July 14, 2014

More Linkage

I'm going back to my sickbed for the day - day 4 if you can believe it. Still I am slowly improving so until I'm up and about again here is linkage. They are all artistic endeavours although very different from each other.

The first is 500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art, an extraordinary morph animation put together by Philip Scott Johnson.

Then there's Sarah Stone's equally extraordinary cover of Royals accompanied only by the beat of her hands on a table and a cup - and we get some idea of how hard this was to do in the first 20 seconds.

An intriguing bison sculpture by John Lopez made from recycled farm machinery. Read the rest of the article and you can see more examples of his work.

A little whimsy here. Whether you approve of graffiti art or not these are clever.

And for sheer beauty there is this ethereal sculpture  from the Fantasy Wire Fairies Sculptures website where you can see other equally lovely sculptures.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately and then these turned up in my Facebook feed and lifted my spirits. I hope they do the same for you.

A pair of talented young singers - and what voices they have.

A whale rescue - successful too. Always a good thing.

I love sushi as much as the next person but...

An invention we really do need

and just for fun some hand dancing.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Rolf Harris Conviction

I've been mulling over this because it's something I feel very strongly about.  If you don't know already, entertainer Rolf Harris, has been found guilty of twelve counts of indecent assault on girls and young women. Since there have been multiple claims by adult women, many of them backed up by witnesses, that he groped them too.

The thing is when I was in a conversation with a man I know to be caring, supportive and genuinely appalled by what has come out in the Rolf Harris trial, I was asked why these women hadn't spoken up before.

Sounds reasonable, I suppose, but the thing is it's a lucky woman who doesn't experience unwanted sexual touching or get groped at some time and it's shocking when it happens. You can't quite believe it happened for a moment and, most of the time, the man makes a quick exit while you're standing there stunned or, if he's in a position of power as Rolf Harris was, he just goes on as if nothing has happened. By the time you've got yourself together you realise that it's too late because he's gone or that it's his word against yours and he'll swear it didn't happen or claim it was an accident or, if he's got the power as happened to Rolf Harris' victims, it's likely he's considered all the more credible because of the high status our society gives celebrities.

And Rolf Harris is a famous man, who was greatly admired as an entertainer and an artist. He was commissioned to paint a portrait of the Queen, for heaven's sake. He has been awarded a CBE, an MBE, an OBE and a Member of the Order of Australia. Most of these women were young or in their early teens, in situations where they had no witness to what had happened and knew that, if it came down to it, they were likely to be disbelieved or accused of seeking attention.

The adult women now coming forward have all said that had they known children were involved they would have spoken up and I don't doubt they would have. It's one thing to have a low life "octopus" grab your bum or breast or shove a hand inside your knickers or worse as an adult and decide it's not worth the hassle to report it and quite another if you know it's happening to a child.

The adults who were groped will probably not get their day in court and I suppose that's inevitable given the passage of time and the fact that such assaults rarely do make it to the court room but at least there will be some satisfaction for them now Rolf Harris has been sentenced. For the rest of us who have had similar experiences, society does seem to be changing with good men speaking up against the minority of their fellows who show no respect for women. Maybe when decent men, like the one I was talking to, hear exactly why women don't always report such incidents, they'll understand that it doesn't mean this is something they can ignore or take lightly because it is probable that this has happened to many women they know and it's high time it was stopped.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Cheesy Cauliflower Soup

This was last night's meal with a buttered wholemeal bread roll and followed by a bowl of strawberries.

It's such a simple recipe - microwaved and much from the store cupboard - that I'm almost embarrassed to give it but it was so good I'm going to. No accurate measurements either, I'm afraid, but here goes.

Put 1 large head of cauliflower, divided into segments, vegetable stock - I used 2 good quality cubes in about a litre of water - and about a handful of dried onion flakes into a microwavable container and cook until the cauliflower is tender. It took about fifteen minutes on high in my microwave. Of course, you could cook it on the stove and I sometimes do but this was what I did last night.

When the cauliflower is cooked, add a large handful of parsley leaves, stalks removed. If you don't you end up with gritty little bits of stalk. Ask me how I know. Add three or four heaped tablespoons of full cream powdered milk and blend together with a stick mixer or in a blender. It'll be fairly thick and you might need to add a little boiling water. I try not to add too much, partly because we like it to be substantial but also I don't want to water down the flavour. Grate some cheese into the hot soup, say 50-60 grams but not too much, because you don't want to overpower the flavour of the other ingredients, and serve.

That gave us about 5 serves as a main meal dish and it was filling and delicious.

Note: I discovered using powdered milk this way one day when I was making a more traditional cauliflower soup and ran out of milk and it worked so well I've used it ever since to make this soup.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Women in SF

I was reading Tansy Rayner Roberts' blog, in particular her recent Friday Links post. These are usually interesting and this collection doesn't disappoint. I was especially interested in the links to Kari Sperring's blog where, in Living as a Woman in a Science Fiction Future, she talks about the limited range of women characters who appear in SF, in particular older women, and the follow up, Collateral Damage, where she talks about how older women writers are treated in terms of profile, reviews and prestige. If you are a women, especially an older woman, who has been wondering what happened to your favourite women writers - for me women like Judith Tarr, Tanith Lee, Katherine Kerr and C J Cherryh and so many more - the comments make for depressing reading because some of these women join the conversation.

While their experiences are disturbing, and although this is about writing, I can't help feeling they are also a reflection on the way society treats women as they age in general. You only have to look at the movies in which a man in his sixties is cast as the romantic lead opposite a woman young enough to be his daughter, something that is not common in real life and something that immediately turns me off. Mature couples are a rarity on the screen, whether it's a movie or television but why? This is an important question because it permeates society and because of how people are influenced by what they see and what they read - that is the stories they are told shape their perceptions - we need to have this conversation.

There may not be much we can do individually to change society in general apart from challenging these attitudes whenever we come across them but perhaps we could do something to raise the profile of these neglected women writers by lobbying their publishers for more of their books, buying books that are still in print and reviewing their books on blogs, on Amazon and Goodreads and anywhere else we can think of. Whether it will help I don't know but at least we would be making a point and maybe, as another option, we could make a start by listing women writers whose books we enjoy and sharing that list with others. I think I'll start doing that myself.